Before you hire someone to install an egress window in your basement, you probably want to know more about the installation process. This is reasonable, because you’re trusting a contractor to modify your home. If you’re going to invest in a major safety feature that adds to your resale value, you should know how it’s accomplished.
At Acculevel, we believe the ideal customer is a well-informed one. We want to provide all the information you need to make the best decisions for you and your home. We use this blog and our YouTube channel to explore foundation problems and solutions, demonstrate waterproofing and repair methods, and address frequently asked questions. Since our start in 1996, we’ve helped more than 30,000 homeowners in our service area preserve and protect their greatest investment.
In this blog, we’re going to detail the steps needed to install an egress window in a basement. This is not meant to serve as a DIY instruction manual; it only details what you should expect when a professional contractor arrives to do the installation. We do not recommend that a homeowner attempt this type of project. Creating a hole in your basement wall, if done poorly or in the wrong location, could destabilize your foundation.
Excavation Prepares the Job Site
Before the installation can be done, the crew needs to excavate an area around the window location. This excavation is a fairly large hole- usually 6-7 feet across. The depth of the excavation will depend on your foundation, and how far underground the window needs to be placed. Once the excavation is complete, we can start installing the window.
Five Steps to Install an Egress Window in Your Basement
1. Create the Window Opening
If you already have a small window in the basement, this will be taken out. The opening needs to be expanded to accommodate the larger egress window. If you don’t have a window in your basement, or you don’t have one in the necessary location, we’ll need to create an opening.
This is easier to do in a concrete block wall, because the mortar around the blocks provides a cutting guide and an easier “breaking” point. But with the right training and equipment, you can create and frame a window in a poured concrete foundation as well.
All of these photos were taken by Acculevel crew members during installation. This shows the opening they created for the window.
2. Place a Layer of Gravel
The crew spreads a thick layer of gravel on the ground. It should be evenly distributed from the foundation outward, covering the area where the window well is installed. This is a necessary step; the gravel helps drain any water that gets into the window well. Without it, water could settle into the ground outside your foundation and cause cracks to form.
3. Fit the Window Well
Once the gravel is set, the window well can be put into place. The well is the portion that has steps built into it, so people can easily escape in case of an emergency.
When the crew has properly located the well, it will be secured to the foundation wall on either side of the window opening.
You can see the wooden framework for the window is done and the well is installed.
4. Install the Basement Window
Now that the well is in place, it’s time to install the egress window in the basement. This is done in much the same way other windows are installed. The difference is that this window will not slide or open outwards. Egress windows swing inwards, like a door. This makes it easier for someone to exit through the opening.
The egress window is installed.
5. The Finishing Touches
You should always have a “door” or cover on the window well. You don’t want kids or pets to fall into it while playing outside! There are well covers that are an open grid, but the best option is a clear, solid door. This will not only protect against falls, but will also keep out the majority of rainfall, leaves, and miscellaneous debris.
The window well cover does not lock, nor does it come with any method for locking. This is deliberate, because locking an emergency exit is counterproductive (and violates fire code). To keep it from sliding off or getting blown off by wind gusts, the cover is set into place with an industrial grade velcro. It’s still easy enough for a child to move, but firm enough to serve its purpose.
The completed installation, with cover attached and backfill completed.
The installation crew will then backfill any gaps between the well and the ground. Unless you’ve requested otherwise, the crew should remove the excess dirt from the property for you. If you have plans to use this dirt elsewhere on your property (maintaining the lawn grading, maybe?), make sure you explain this to the crew doing the work.
Were you alarmed by my last comment about the grading of your lawn? Homes need check-ups just like people do! We have a step-by-step DIY inspection checklist that is free for you to use. It helps you assess your home and property for potential problems in your home’s foundation.
If you’re planning to finish your basement, we recommend that you start with encapsulation. This traps any water that gets into your basement, and directs into the water drainage track- protecting your insulation, drywall, and other finishes from damp.
Are you hesitant to hire a contractor to work on your home? We’ve all heard stories about homeowners being scammed by people posing as legitimate contractors, and we want to help you avoid becoming one of them. Our free guide to questions you should ask a contractor explains what to ask, why these questions matter, and what answers can be a red flag.
Are You Ready to Have an Egress Window Installed?
Do you live in Indiana, or in the surrounding areas? If so, call Acculevel! We are a family-owned and operated company, specializing in foundation repair, waterproofing, and concrete leveling. When you contact us, we’ll schedule an appointment for an in-home estimate. An experienced and knowledgeable project manager will meet with you, discuss your concerns, and evaluate your home to provide the best possible solution for you.
If you don’t live in Acculevel’s service area, you’ll need to find a quality contractor in your area. We recommend that you always verify the company is insured and accredited by the Better Business Bureau. A good contractor will behave professionally, treat you with respect, and provide a free written estimate that clearly and specifically details the costs.